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Life Lessons I Learned from Being Shy

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

When I was in elementary and high school, I was super shy. I didn’t like to talk, was very quiet, and presentations were pretty much a nightmare. By the end of high school, I had grown out of being shy (although I still don’t like presentations!). Nowadays, I am more quiet than shy, though I am definitely not as nervous about social interaction as I once was. Being shy for that many years did teach me many things though, including lessons that I now use today. If you’re a shy person, you can probably relate to these things and have learned them as well!


1. How to listen

Being shy meant that I didn’t talk a lot. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have friends, just that I did more listening than talking. Being able to actively listen and care about what people are telling you is such a useful skill, one that many people do not have. Though I don’t have any problem talking now, listening is still a skill that I’m proud of, whether it be to a friend, employer or professor, because you learn so much more by focusing more on listening than what you are going to say next.

2. Not everyone is going to be understanding

Not everyone is like you. Seems simple, right? Everyone’s different. That doesn’t mean that people who aren’t shy will understand why you are. All throughout elementary school I got comments about how quiet and shy I was. As a shy person, you have to deal with people commenting on that shyness, regardless of the fact that it does not help you. Good for you for making it this far while receiving comments like this from people who don’t understand! You’ve probably realized by now that just because people don’t understand you doesn’t mean you should stop being who you are. Who you are is amazing, whether you’re shy, outgoing, smart, creative, or anything else!

3. Quietness is a blessing…and a curse

Being quiet can be a good thing. If you have a quiet voice, like me, children and animals probably trust you (I don’t know why, I guess it makes us seem calmer). It is easy to sneak up on people, which can be fun around Halloween. However, being quiet means you are often not heard. People’s listening skills? Not always great. Sometimes you have to feel like you’re yelling just for people to hear you (even though you’re probably speaking at a normal volume). The upside of this is you have a lot of practice with making yourself heard when you need to. You may not always speak up, but when you do, you can get your point across!


4. How to be observant

This is different than being able to listen. You notice your surroundings, because you’re often wondering when you’ll next be forced out of your shell. Being more aware of who and what is around you makes it easier to resist the impulse to be shy, because you have a better idea of what to expect. Being observant is a great thing! You notice when things are wrong with your friends or even with yourself, and it is a benefit when it comes to school work in university.

5. Me time is the best time

If you’re shy, you probably spend a lot of time alone. Not necessarily because you don’t have people to interact with, but because interacting is hard. This is a great time to do things you enjoy, whether it be read, watch Netflix, bake, or anything else that relaxes you. These hobbies can help form friendships, giving you something to talk about that you are comfortable with. And spending time alone, relaxing and recuperating, is never a bad thing. Mental health is important, don’t forget to take care of yourself!

6. You’re capable of a lot more than you think you are

Being shy comes with a whole list of things that are difficult to do. Public speaking? No thanks. Socializing with strangers? Nope. Thanks to the school system, you’re forced to do these things. However, every time you get up and do a presentation, even if it’s not perfect, or work with a group of people you don’t know, it’s a small victory. You get better each time, and you prove to yourself, more than anyone else, exactly what you are capable of. Go you!!


7. You learn how to be creatively independent

If you are not a fan of unknown social interaction, being independent can be difficult in today’s world. However, the older you get, the more independent you have to be. While this may be difficult, you manage! Maybe you send emails instead of talking on the phone, or maybe you bring a friend with you grocery shopping. If you have to work up to doing things completely on your own, that’s fine. You’ll get there. Baby steps, but you’re still doing what you need to do, and as long as it works for you, good job!

Being shy is often looked down upon, especially in school. However, it is not a bad thing. Being shy taught me so many things, and eventually, you could grow out of it. And if not, that’s okay too! Being shy is totally valid, and you learn so much from it.


4th Year English Major at Wilfrid Laurier University. My favourite things include: books and baked goods.
Jenna Steadman

Wilfrid Laurier

4th year Psychology major at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo ON.